More than 86 nominations from around the region were received, with finalists and their supporters attending the event to hear the winners announced. While the change to Red level meant the 350+ event was dramatically reduced to under 100 attendees, the spotlight was set firmly on the finalists of the awards and their supporters, with all other attendees, stakeholders and general public able to view the awards via livestream online. 
In its second year, the Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Awards celebrates and acknowledges community initiatives, people and programmes that aim to grow participation and deliver opportunities and spaces for communities to be active. 
Winners were announced from seven categories including three new categories for 2021: Commitment to Youth Engagement, Community Coach and Community Unsung Hero.
The winners were: 
Community Connection Award: Parafed Waikato
Sport & Active Recreation Partnership Award: Get Waikato Swimming! (Swimming Waikato)
Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion Award: Everybody’s Game (The Waterboy)
Outstanding Active Space Initiative Award: Ride Coromandel Bike Park 
Commitment to Youth Engagement Award: Perry Outdoor Education Trust (POET)
Community Coach Award: Nano (Rangi) Te Whare (Waitomo)
Community Unsung Hero Award (JOINT winners): Rex Hohaia (rugby league) & Peter Loft (Achilles)
Sport Waikato Chief Executive Matthew Cooper said the calibre of nominations were outstanding this year.

“We are seeing some absolutely incredible initiatives being delivered around the region in local communities that really change the way we get active. The people behind the scenes, the initiatives developed, the spaces and places we get active and the way in which they are delivered are creating fun experiences which will keep people coming back - building a lifelong love of being active. And that’s what it’s all about.” 

“Congratulations to all of our finalists and winners – we’re thrilled that we were still able to acknowledge and celebrate your achievements in person despite the last minute change to Red. Thank you for all that you do for our communities; you are an inspiration to all.”


Full list of finalists and winners follows.
2021 Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Awards Winners
Community Connection TOKOROA BLADES
PARAFED WAIKATO                                                           WINNER
Sport & Active Recreation Partnership JUNIOR FESTIVAL OF RUGBY (FRANKTON RUGBY CLUB)
Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion TE AWAMUTU GROUP RIDING FOR THE DISABLED
EVERYBODY’S GAME (THE WATERBOY)                           WINNER
Outstanding Active Space Initiative TAMARIKI & RANGATAHI HAVE GOT TO GET OUT
RIDE COROMANDEL BIKE PARK                                        WINNER
NANO (RANGI) TE WHARE (WAITOMO)                              WINNER
Community Unsung Hero PETER VAN VROONHOVEN
PETER LOFT                                                             JOINT WINNER
REX HOHAIA                                                            JOINT WINNER

2021 Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Winners Blurbs

Community Connection Award: Parafed Waikato 
For provision of sport and recreation opportunities to people who are disabled. Parafed Waikato grew their membership and provided much needed support, helping provide improved outcomes at school and work, and confidence through the work that they do to keep their members physically active.    

Sport & Active Recreation Partnership Award: Swimming Waikato - Get Waikato Swimming! 
Swimming Waikato’s Get Waikato Swimming! is a newly developed programme that delivers learn to swim opportunities for tamariki in low decile schools in the Waikato. Their partnership with the many supporters such as Hamilton City Council, Hamilton Pools, Swimming New Zealand and trusts was instrumental in Swimming Waikato being able to provide over 6500 individual lessons from January to July 2021 alone. 

Outstanding Active Space Initiative Award: Ride Coromandel Bike park
Nominated in two categories this year, and built on the site of a former refuse tip, the bike park trails and pump track are used by elite athletes and community members alike, with people taking up physical activity as a direct result of the park. Peak times see 140-150 riders per day. The park is a huge asset to those both in and outside the district. 

Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion Award: The Waterboy – Everybody’s Game
For the second year running, The Waterboy took out the Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion Award for its programme Everybody’s Game – a speaker series in secondary schools tackling the issues of homophobia and inclusiveness in sport and society. Everybody’s Game breaks down barriers that LGBT students face to keep them active and involved in sport. 

Commitment to Youth Engagement Award: Perry Outdoor Education Trust (POET)
POET engages rangatahi through their outdoor education programmes which focus on growth, leadership and challenge. POET provides experiences that are close to home and low cost, breaking down barriers and building schools’ capabilities to deliver outdoor experiences – and ensuring that outdoor experiences are sustainable for schools.

Community Coach Award: Nano (Rangi) Te Whare
A coach of multiple sports who is a firm believer in passing on his knowledge to others, Nano believes that sport not only builds character and confidence but gives a sense of accomplishment. Nano’s coaching aligns to Balance is Better and Good Sports philosophies, ensuring tamariki/rangatahi are connected, removing barriers to participation and building team culture. Nano has a passionate, caring, innovative approach to managing relationships and creating development opportunities for young people.

Community Unsung Hero Award: Peter Loft (Achilles NZ) and Rex Hohaia (rugby league) JOINT WINNERS
Rex has volunteered in many roles as part of Waikato rugby league since the 1960s, and last year was instrumental in leading the charge to redevelop the dilapidated Davies Park in Huntly for the next generation of rugby league players and supporters. Because of the work that Rex has lead to bring the park back to its former glory, 2021 saw a full season and grand final held at the park. 

As the founder of Achilles New Zealand, Peter now volunteers his time at the Hamilton chapter providing coaching to disabled athletes and guides. Through his volunteering services for Achilles, Peter has given countless disabled Kiwis the opportunity to be active in a safe, supported environment and helped them to look past their disabilities to what they can achieve. 

2021 Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Awards - Winners

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